HRSD has spent the past year tracking COVID-19 through our wastewater. Here’s what it’s learned.

Mar 29, 2021

For more than a year, scientists in a Hampton Roads Sanitation District lab have been searching your stool.

Using a process known as wastewater epidemiology, they look for the presence of the coronavirus, hoping to learn more about who is getting infected and where.

What have they been able to figure out?

Most of the time, the scientists have seen the same trends as the rest of us: a peak in COVID-19 cases last summer, followed by low numbers until a major jump after the winter holidays.

But HRSD knows about them about a week ahead of time.

People start shedding the virus through their wastewater much faster than they can get tested, giving sanitation officials a week’s lead to ring the alarm. That was especially useful when testing through nasal swabs was scarce in the early days of the pandemic, but it’s still helpful.

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